DETROIT Ford Motor Co (F.N) said on Monday it will install charging stations at more than 50 of its U.S. and Canadian offices and plants so that employees can refill their electric vehicle batteries at work.
The second-largest U.S. automaker said it will start installing the charging stations and their 200 chargers in November, at nearly every Ford facility in the United States and Canada, and roll them out through 2014.
"We know that a growing electrified vehicle infrastructure is key to making plug-in vehicles a viable option for more consumers," said Mike Tinskey, Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure.
"We're trying to be on the leading edge of a trend to offer employees the ability to have a second charge so they would charge at night (at home) and then charge at work," he said in a telephone interview. This would allow them to drive their cars' in electric mode nearly all the time, he noted.
Employees will get free charging for the first four hours, enough to top up a fully depleted battery on any Ford vehicle. Tinskey did not disclose the installation costs for Ford.
Ford estimated it will cost the Detroit-area company about 50 cents to fully charge a vehicle, while saving each employee up to $2 in gasoline a day.
Consumers have been slow to gravitate toward electric vehicles (EVs) as a result of their high cost and fears about driving range, but automakers continue to develop the technology because it is seen as a primary driver in meeting rising fuel-efficiency requirements globally. To further boost sales, several automakers have slashed prices on their EVs in recent months.
While the number of public charging stations in the United States and Canada has grown to more than 20,000 from 3,000 in 2009, the ability to charge at work is key for driving down costs and making EVs more convenient, Tinskey said. The company has no plans to install chargers in public places, he said.
Ford already has more than 1,700 charging stations at Ford dealerships and company facilities in North America. The company sells the all-electric Focus Electric as well as two plug-in hybrids - the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi.
Other automakers have EV charging stations as well.
General Motors Co (GM.N), which sells the Chevrolet Volt plug-in and all-electric Spark EV, has 795 charging stations at its U.S. facilities, 395 of which can be accessed by the general public. It has another 4,300 stations at its U.S. dealerships.
Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), which sells the all-electric Leaf, has a total of more than 160 level 2 chargers and 10 quick charging units installed at 12 of its major U.S. facilities, and a total of more than 3,100 located at its U.S. dealerships. It also has a dedicated team of employees that helps the Japanese automaker invest with others to install stations at companies and in communities.
Electric carmaker Tesla Motors (TSLA.O) has installed almost 30 superchargers in the United States and parts of Europe to allow its customers to replenish their cars batteries quickly on long drives.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Richard Chang)